Gucci Mane‘s 1017 artists are showing solidarity with Howard University students who have been protesting inhumane living conditions, among other concerns, at the university over the past few days.
Big Scarr, HotBoyWes, and Bic Fizzle were scheduled to perform for students during the HBCU’s homecoming week celebration but ended up joining them in protest instead after learning that students were calling out the university and its officials over black mold found in dorms, lack of housing availability, inadequate COVID-19 testing, campus safety concerns, and an updated Board of Trustees decision to eliminate faculty, student, and alumni positions.
Protests began on Tuesday, Oct. 12, when several students staged a sit-in at Howard’s Blackburn Multipurpose Center. 1017 artists, who joined the fight Oct. 15, can be seen helping and addressing the students in several social media videos, including one where HotBoyWes tells them “I stand with y’all” before asking “where my sign at?!”
The local chapter of the NAACP also voiced their support of the protest via an Instagram post that reads, “We stand in solidarity with the student body who has continuously been ignored and mistreated. We stand in solidarity with the student body who has declared that enough is enough. #blackburntakeover.”
An email sent on Oct. 13 by Howard’s Vice President of Student Affairs Cynthia Evers discouraged the protest and rebutted the negative messages being spread by students about the school, while also warning students of the disciplinary actions they’d face if the protests continue.
“Even after meeting for lunch twice over the last two weeks with administrators, some of the protestors are distributing disinformation to encourage a public perception that the administration has not met with them. This is not the truth,” reads the letter. “The truth is you did not like the honest answers that you received when we met. The University cannot sustain operations if tuition is cut by 40%, when we already charge as much as 50% less than peer institutions. Our current occupancy rate in student housing is 94%. There is no housing shortage. There have been rooms in select residence halls that were affected by mold growth.”
The statement maintained that the “mold issue is not widespread,” and that “the University’s response held the third-party vendor fully accountable, and they are conducting mold remediation and HVAC duct cleaning in the impacted rooms, and throughout the building as part of third-quarter preventive maintenance.”
The Board of Trustees responded to students on Oct. 16, confirming a meeting between Howard University President Wayne Frederick, cabinet members, Rev. Dr. Bernard L. Richardson, dean of the chapel, and student leaders from various groups, including the Howard University Student Organization (HUSA), Undergraduate Student Assembly (UGSA), The Hilltop, among others. The conversation was the first of what the school hopes will be continued open dialogues to help “bridge the gap” between student and administration expectations.
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